Rocks and ash are catapulted into the sky as one of the country’s most active volcanoes bursts into life.
Japan’s Sakurajima volcano has erupted, sending lava flowing down its slope and spewing ash and stones into the night sky.
Dramatic pictures of the fiery spectacle also show flashes of volcanic lightning – thought to be caused by friction between ash particles and gases.
The volcano, in the southern Kagoshima prefecture, has been showing increased activity since August when locals were told to prepare for a large eruption and possible evacuation.
The Sendai nuclear plant is only 30 miles (50km) away but has not issued any warnings.
However, Greenpeace said the potential impact of ash deposits from a major eruption had been “underestimated”.
In a statement, the environmental group claimed the plant’s owner, Kyushu Electric, had carried out “flawed volcano risk analysis”.
An eruption at Sakurajima in 1914 was the most powerful in twentieth century Japan, with lava flows permanently connecting the former island volcano to the Kyushu mainland.
Japan has more than 100 active volcanoes and lies on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edge of the Pacific.
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